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Retirement plan talk reveals council divide
Guyton City Council
My personal estimate is that we serve for the greater good of Guyton as opposed to a personal benefit.
Councilman Marshall Reiser

GUYTON — A major philosophical difference about compensation for public servants was revealed during the June 8 meeting of the Guyton City Council.

The divide emerged during discussion of a $1,200 expenditure for a retirement plan study. The purpose of the study is to research the cost of adding council members to the retirement plan for city employees.

Councilman Marshall Reiser was the first to express his opinion.

“I’m not sure that this would be wise for the city to move in this direction,” he said. “I think it creates a long-term obligation for the city. My review of this, theoretically, every four years we could have a complete turnover on this council.

“However, those five people who previously served would potentially be entitled to some defined benefits plan and, if you extrapolate that over 10, 20 or 30 years, you are creating a large item in your budget that will be something that you have to plan around and will continue to grow as more people serve. My personal estimate is that we serve for the greater good of Guyton as opposed to a personal benefit.

“I totally understand our employees receiving this type of benefit because they are putting in many years of service to the city. This, for us, is more of a volunteer effort, a side hustle if you will, to serve our citizens.”

The pay for Guyton’s mayor and council members was set at $400 and $300, respectively, in 2018. 

“Being compensated beyond just our monthly salary — if that’s what it is — is more than I think we should be budgeting for or spending the citizens’ money for so I don’t think it’s wise use of our citizens’ money,” Reiser continued.

Councilman Michael Johnson disagreed.

“I look down that line and I see a lot of cities that does it and don’t do it but it is actually a second job for us because we spend more time here — a lot of time here — going and coming so that’s how I feel,” he said. 

Mayor Russ Deen sided with Reiser.

“I would like to note that I don’t agree with this expense either in the study or the long term,” he said. “I believe we should serve out of the interests of the citizens and that (retirement) money could be better spent on parks or roads or any number of other activities. I do agree that we work too hard but I don’t think do it for — well, we definitely don’t do it for the praise or the money we currently get — but a small stipend isn’t going to make that change for me.”

Deen asked that the council table the matter for a month. Johnson, however, made a motion to approve the expenditure. It was seconded by Joseph Lee.

Hursula Pelote joined Johnson and Lee with an affirmitive vote.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rincon City Council members are eligible to receive retirement pay. Council members in Springfield are not.